Once upon a time I was the girlfriend of a deployed Marine.

It was him. And me. That’s all that mattered in that, to what now feels like such a brief moment in time. In my heart, I knew he needed me, and I fully intended to be there as much as I possibly could as a support system to him.

It was the first time I made friends with women across the country whom I had never met. It was the first time I reached outside of my inner circle for connection and support. No one else got it. Honestly, I didn’t really even talk to the people “closest to me” about it at all. To this day they don’t really know much about that relationship… how deep it was, how it affected me, how it unraveled…

I made the trip to Pendleton. I had that whole “run to each other in the airport” moment. I put my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time holding while his hand. We walked down Hollywood Blvd together. He would play me music on the guitar, and I would melt. We cried at the airport as I got on a plane to come back home, I wrote poetry about it. It was all very “Typical Teenage Romance Movie” now that I look back at it. lol.

Then he left, and I was sad.
I ran to the mailbox every day looking for a letter.
I barely slept for months hoping that maybe that night he would call.
I worried constantly.
But I was PROUD. So so so proud to be that girl.
Silently I stood very comfortably and strong in that spot.

I believe situations like that change you forever. They make an imprint on your soul. They change the way you see things. They change the things you take for granted. They change the way you look at the sacrifices made because you stood very very close to the ACTUAL thing.

I was young, and things didn’t necessarily end the way they do in the movies, but I will never forever the lessons learned there and the unspoken bond that was formed between that man and me. Those two things remain no matter what.

It’s funny because since then I’ve had so many military members come into my life and stay. I truly believe in purpose and that these amazing people have been brought into my world for a reason.

Whatever it was that connected us, I am eternally grateful for it because I hold them so close to my heart.

I am grateful to have that connection with such amazing, selfless, heroic human beings.
It’s humbling that they choose to confide in me, connect with me, and protect me. (because let’s be honest, no one leaves the military and just loses that protective instinct. That sticks with them always)

It’s encouraging to hear their stories, struggles, triumphs.

And it’s days like today that I am HONORED to call them my friends.

I am ridiculously patriotic. I was raised that way. My dad has flown a flag every single day of his life. His father did the same.

I cry on the Fourth of July
I get goosebumps every single time I hear the National Anthem.
I say, “Thank You” to any service member I see.
I have respect for our flag and our country.
I am proud to be an American every single day (not just when it’s socially acceptable or convenient)

Because once upon a time I was the girlfriend of a US Marine and that changed me. That molded me and made me a better person. I take the freedoms that have been given to me very very seriously…. Do you?

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